A popular cooking show that was the brainchild of groups representing Manitoba farmers is still going strong — and beginning its 28th season this year.
“Great Tastes of Manitoba” first aired in 1991 with half-hour programs airing on CTV with dietitians and home economists sharing recipes and offering expert advice on how to cook and enjoy Manitoba-grown food.
“Great Tastes of Manitoba” is now distinguished as Manitoba’s longest-running, locally produced television show, said Donalee Jones, senior producer for Frank Digital, who spoke recently at Ag Days.
“We’re very proud of that,” she said. “Think about other shows that were on in the 1990s that you don’t see anymore. Only the Simpsons is still on the air.”
Manitoba commodity groups supporting all these seasons also have reason to boast. Theirs is a unique collaboration of commodity groups focused on an initiative to improve consumer awareness about locally grown foods this way.
Those commodity groups were ahead of the times, too, given that interest in locally grown food in the early 1990s was muted.
“These industries, which are farmer directed, had foresight” said Jones.
The program also remains a top-rated cooking show in the provincial market, among all other programs running on the Food Network, ranking even higher than celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, or other prime time shows.
Twenty-seven thousand viewers tune in weekly to the show which is broadcast at 6:30 p.m. spring and fall on CTV Winnipeg.
More recently, they’ve also branched into a social media and online presence, making content available 24 hours a day through GreatTastesMB.ca and on its YouTube channel.
“Great Tastes of Manitoba” has also been unfailing in its efforts to deliver not “just the facts” about farming, but to communicate shared values with viewers who are not farmers, Jones said.
“We (farmers) tell our story but if the only people who are listening are other farmers, I question how much progress we’re making,” she said.
“‘Great Tastes of Manitoba’ is reaching the urban consumer.”
And clearly viewers do want to hear more about farmers producing the milk and canola oil, pulses and mushrooms, and raising the eggs, chicken, pork, and beef used in the show’s recipes.
That’s why they’d like to try something new — develop more farm-focused content available for download or streaming outside the show, said Jones.
“What we’d like to develop are stand-alone webisodes about farm practices or meeting farmers and then those can be shared outside the 30-minute broadcast,” she said.
“Great Tastes of Manitoba” is now pitching the idea to farm organizations and the agricultural businesses, offering new sponsorships opportunities to help make it happen because to develop that content will require additional revenues.
“We would love to see additional sponsors come on board,” she said.
Manitoba Agriculture is an affiliated sponsor of “Great Tastes of Manitoba.”
Season 28 will air Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. from September 9 to December 16, 2017 with an encore presentation between February and March next year.